Cable system marking 25 years of service

June 25, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

RANSON, W.Va. - When C/R TV Cable started in Jefferson County in 1972, Patty Ott handled the sales from her home while Larry Willingham handled the installation from a van.

They handled 195 customers in about a 30-mile area.

Now, 25 years later, Ott is the office manager and Willingham the general manager at C/R TV Cable with 25,664 customers and a 890-mile service area.

C/R TV Cable is being presented tonight with the George E. Vickers Major Industrial Award from the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.


"It's exciting. We've put a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of money to provide this service to the people of Jefferson County," Willingham said.

Cable service started in Jefferson County in 1967 by Frederick Cablevision in Frederick, Md., they said.

In 1972, the 31-mile system was sold to the Amvideo Corp. which named it C/R TV Cable to reflect the initial service area of Charles Town and Ranson, said marketing director Paul Espinosa.

The company was purchased by Great Southern Printing and Manufacturing Co. in 1978, which also purchased two cable systems in Berkeley County in 1996.

Espinosa said the big project under way is to merge the Berkeley County systems with the Jefferson County service.

The cable company also is upgrading its lines to use fiber optics and advanced digital electronics.

In 1998, the system is hoping to offer an increased number of cable channels, local government access channels, expanded pay-per-view services and high-speed Internet access, Espinosa said.

"We're getting ready for the future. Technology is moving so fast," Ott said.

Internet access for all subscribers is four or five years down the road, but it'll be tested in limited areas earlier, Willingham said.

Ott and Willingham said they never knew how much cable would grow.

In the early days, they sold it to people who wanted better reception than they could receive from a television antenna, Ott said.

"Back then, if you got a grainy, half-clear picture you felt you were getting something," Ott said.

People were sold on the clearer pictures that they could receive on the 12 channels that cable provided, Ott said.

Cable's growth really started in 1975 when Ted Turner's TBS started broadcasting via satellite to cable providers and premium channels started, Willingham said.

Now people like the large number of choices they have for viewing, Ott said.

The award will be presented at the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce's 37th annual awards banquet tonight at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The social period begins at 6 p.m. and dinner begins at 7 p.m.

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